Singing about topics from the struggles of acceptance to the hanging specter of religion, Anjimile performs with honesty that resonates. Over course of Giver Taker, Anjimile draws the listener in with soothing melodies that are calming to the soul. There is deep sadness evident, but the songs are delivered with strength and resilience that reaches for the heart. Mainly situated in the indie-folk genre, Anjimile’s debut album weaves in hypnotic rock to build the twenty-seven-minute experience that is more impactful with each playthrough.
Learning to accept love is a driving theme of Giver Taker. From “Baby No More” to “To Meet You There”, Anjimile is hovering at the precipice of falling in love or diving right out of it to save his partner from the hurt to come. While love is often a touchstone of music, so often only the initial passions are touched on. With Anjimile, he describes the doubt that comes from being loved. He wants to share a life with another person but has trouble seeing past his own past. It is a theme many can understand, and Anjimile conveys it with soft-spoken tenderness.
A lot of the agonizing doubt and the feelings of insecurity within the album arise from being left out and unwanted by the commonly perceived notions of God. In “Not Another Word”, Anjimile sings, “I came howling after God/ Won’t you set things right?/ Mend my mind, untie my knot/ Calm me through the night.” God remains ever quiet, and the agonizing lows of doubt sweep over Anjimile as he comes to terms with his trans identity without God’s guidance. Rather than run from it, Anjimile leans into his religious upbringing to tell his own story and connect it with the spiritual side of life.
In the single “Maker”, when asked why he won’t do what he’s told, Anjimile responds boldly, “I’m not just a boy, I’m a man/ I’m not just a man, I’m a god/ I’m not just a god, I’m a maker.” There is a lot to unpack in a song that feels so personal to the artist, but one interpretation could relate that if God is the maker of all of us, then we are all God’s children, and by being god’s children, each of us is imbued with God’s absolute potential. Anjimile is bucking norms by being who he is, and he turns that societal conflict into harmonious songs that are resoundingly calming during the tumultuous times of 2020.